planting garlic

When To Plant Garlic In California

Growing garlic in California is an enjoyable and rewarding experience for any gardener. With California’s diverse climate and unique soils, the possibilities for garlic cultivation are endless. California garlic is known for its large size, strong flavor, and a wide variety. From the warm Mediterranean climate of the Central Valley to the cool coastal regions of Northern California, garlic can be successfully grown in almost any region of the state. With its mild winter temperatures, California is an ideal place for growing garlic, as long as the gardener follows a few simple steps.

California’s climate and hardiness zones

California has a varied climate due to its size and location. The northern part of the state has cooler temperatures and more precipitation than the southern part, which experiences hot and dry weather. Summers are generally warm with temperatures ranging from the high 60s to mid-90s in most areas, while winters can range from mild along the coast to cold and snowy in the mountains. Generally, the climate is mild and sunny with little humidity.

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California includes growing zones 5b to 10a. Zone 5b is the coldest and is located in the mountains of the northern part of the state, while Zone 10 is the warmest and is located in the southern part of the state. These hardiness zones are determined by the average annual minimum temperatures in each area and can help gardeners choose plants that are best suited to their local climate. Find your USDA hardiness zone here.

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When to plant spring garlic in California

Garlic can be planted in the spring or fall in California. For spring planting garlic, you will want to purchase some high-quality garlic starter bulbs. You can plant garlic you find in the store, but selecting cloves that are specifically made for growing will yield better results.

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When selecting garlic, you want to make sure the bulbs are firm and have no visible signs of decay. Any bulbs which are mushy Once you have your bulbs, you will need to separate the cloves and plant them in the ground.

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Garlic can be planted outdoors once the weather has warmed and the soil can be worked. It’s among the earliest crops you can sow in the spring. When planting garlic, make sure to space the cloves at least 6 inches apart in a sunny area with well-drained soil. Plant the cloves two inches deep in the soil so that the pointed end is facing up. Water the garlic regularly and keep it free of weeds.

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You can mulch your spring-planted garlic with dried leaves or straw to help retain moisture and suppress the growth of weeds. Garlic planted in the spring in California won’t have as much time to grow as fall planted garlic, so your harvest in the fall may yield slightly smaller bulbs.

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Aged manure, compost, and fresh rabbit manure are all great things to add at this time. I keep rabbits for their manure and always throw on a nice layer of rabbit manure when planting fall garlic.

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When to plant fall garlic in California

Some gardeners consider planting garlic in the fall in California to be advantageous because it allows the garlic bulbs to get a head start on the growing season. In fall, they’ll begin to put down roots but likely won’t send up any growth. Those early roots are important for the plant’s development. As soon as the soil is warm enough to spur new growth, your garlic bulbs will be ready to rock and roll.

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The exact timing for planting fall garlic will depend on your climate zone. The old-fashioned rule of thumb is to plant them right after the autumn equinox in September, but if you live in a very cold climate, you may want to get them in the ground a little bit before this date. If you live in a warmer climate, you can probably wait all the way until the middle of October to get them started. Knowing your climate is key to knowing when exactly to plant your fall garlic.

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Planting garlic is extremely easy. If you’ve purchased bulbs from a nursery, you’re going to want to very carefully break up the bulb and free all of the cloves. Don’t get too aggressive! You don’t want to smash any of the bulbs by accident. Gently rubbing them between your hands should liberate the individual cloves.

Dig holes in a row three inches deep and six inches apart from one another. Carefully drop the cloves of garlic into each hole with the pointed side pointing up. Press them gently into the soil. Don’t jam them in too hard or deep. Cover the bulbs with an even layer of soil.

Aged manure, compost, and fresh rabbit manure are all great things to add at this time. I keep rabbits for their manure and always throw on a nice layer of rabbit manure when planting fall garlic.

Caring for garlic plants

Soil: Garlic plants require nutrient-rich, well-draining soil to thrive. Amend the soil with plenty of organic material such as compost or aged manure before planting. Garlic doesn’t do well in compacted, clay soils, so be sure to loosen up the soil!

Sunlight: Garlic needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day, but preferably 8-10 hours of sunlight daily. Choose a location that gets plenty of sunlight. Insufficient sunlight may result in garlic that doesn’t thrive or produce bulbs.

Water: Garlic plants need between 0.5 and 1 inch of water per week, with ideal drainage in the soil. If there is not enough rainfall to reach this amount, it is necessary to water the plants manually to make up for it. Make sure to water deeply and infrequently, as too little or too much water can be damaging to the plants – too little can cause stress, and too much can lead to bulb rot.

Fertilizer: Aged manure, compost, and fresh rabbit manure are all great, natural fertilizers to provide your garlic bulbs. It’s best to provide these once at the time you plant your garlic bulbs.

When to harvest garlic in California

The exact timing for when fall garlic is ready to be harvested in California varies. Typically they’re ready to harvest in late spring to mid-summer. The timing doesn’t matter as much as the appearance of the crop. You know it’s time to harvest your fall garlic when its lower third leaves have turned brown and died, but its upper foliage is still nice and green.

It can be a little hard to know for sure that it’s time to harvest your garlic, but generally, if those bottom leaves are brown, it’s time to harvest. If they’re still green, it’s too early. There will be some green foliage at the tops of the plants, but don’t let that fool you. If those lower leaves are brown, it’s time to get down in the ground and dig up that garlic!

Thomas Nelson
Gardening Expert
Hi! I'm Thomas, one of the founders of The Garden Magazine. I come from a long line of gardeners who used the art of gardening as a way to live long, healthy lives. I'm here to share my knowledge of gardening with the world!
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